During the fall 2013 semester, Luna Negra was pleased to hold the second annual "Peace versus War" poetry scholarship contest on the theme of "Stop War, Now!" The scholarships are made possible by a generous donation from John Kusnir, an Ohio poet and artist.
Kusnir attended Kent State in 1966, was drafted and served in Vietnam from 1966-69 and returned to Kent State in 1973. Kusnir's experiences have informed an historical consciousness and a respectable body of his own poetry, and the intention of this contest is to reopen a dialogue with the current generation of Kent State students on the topic of "peace versus war."
Luna Negra received 14 submissions this year and, after a blind reading, the staff chose the top six poems. From those six, the staff in the Student Media office ranked the poems, one being the best, added up the rankings and rewarded the three poems with the smallest numbers the top three places.
We would like to extend our gratitude to all the students who submitted their work, for supporting Luna Negra and simply for writing.
Kyle Snyder, First Place
My grandfather has been lying
in an urn for three years,
and I never asked him about the war,
or his naval fleet tugging
through the South Pacific.
He never opened his mouth wide enough
to unleash all of those waves.
Until my brother-in-law mentioned it
over a plate of Christmas stuffing,
the thought of it never crossed me.
Honestly, I didn't know if I wanted
to see that gnawed face of freedom,
on my grandfather's head,
or the stains hiding under the rug.
I couldn't imagine that man
loading three-inch-fifty-caliber shells
into the smoking snout of a gun
sending silver fangs into
the steel ribs of enemies,
emptying the iron guts of its souls
screaming for their own freedom,
and the ocean dumping its salty spit
into the hollow belly of the hull.
I was afraid that there was blood
under his fingernails and that
he never tried to scrape it out.
But I found out he was a cook on his ship.
He stood in a grease caked kitchen
with pots and pans and sea-brine in the air,
peeling the rough skins of potatoes
above the heat of steaming water
and stirring some slop of stew
while clouds of war growled in the sky.
I wish there were more of those stories
of warm bread and soft butter to pass on
and less of lost limbs flung in the mud.
More cups of coffee poured for crowds at tables
instead of those crowds running through fields
bursting with flesh-confetti.
There should be a hell of a lot more grandfather's,
fathers, daughters and friends being welcomed home
with a plate full of fried chicken
instead of a flag and a casket.
Veteran's Day Speakers
Shelby Driver, Second Place
He sucked the air out of the room
when he told us how he lost his leg.
Some of us shuddered and hid our eyes,
others tried to keep from giggling
at the sight of our grimaced faces.
We squirmed when he told us
the details: an exploding plane,
shrapnel raining down as bullets
whizzed by like bumblebees.
We thought about bumblebees,
and how the stings we got on recess
paled in comparison to that propeller,
oh that propeller that pinned him to that
rice bowl garnished with bullet shells
still zinging by catching him by
the shoulder as he wades in his blood
till Harry spoons him up like broth
and pours him into the back of a
Jeep, back into the hospital bed where
they tell him it couldn't be
and that he is going home
a cripple. Crippled like
Jamie in Ms. Dawson's class that
can't reach the water fountain by himself
He holds up the x-rays, showing us the places
where pieces were left, turning him into
America's Most Wanted whenever he
visits the airport.
"It ain't so bad," he says.
He takes us out and shows us
his fireball red Mustang, sitting patiently
in the Visitor's Lot, brought to him by
the U.S government.
Before he goes, he tells us how
proud he is that he's an American,
and passes out flags to take home
so when we tell our parents how he
lost his leg they will remember
their college days when they
stomped their feet, banging on those
white-washed doors, chanting the song of
the peaceful, We Shall Overcome.
They are still waiting for an answer
like the postman at the door
ready to deliver peace.
Daniel Dorman, Third Place
borders burning and enduring searing signs of crimes
left over in a 20/20 hindsight vision
of an idea we all hold most dear inside
half-time legs aching in their lurk
spurs sharpened and shining
for the bloody glory flirt that waits jeering over the Nakdong
the evil cheek is turning at attention
nuke fusion of cocksure struts always faithful
to the parade, wherever it goes
even if it's a people's causeway steeple's
open doors and sounding morning horns or
exchange bells ringing ideas born at dawn
their glory is in the first falling bomb
iron fist tummy knots hungry and holding
stone soup but won't be eating any time soon
ready to doom steeping bastions of ancillaries bound
with a hate and hurt that will be burning even deeper
when the last man is standing in heaps of the deceived
they don't think about those smooth operators, the lovers
and supreme leader doppelgangers, the ones who could poise
the staggering battery of bolstered already-ghosts living outside
themselves and outside their homes for the first mention of new
we'll give no quarter for pageant prancing winnowing soldiers
no bomb bullion backstabbing bastards looking
to clone outside their opaque iron dome
we want the pony primping passionate practitioners of appetite
the home cooked meal border line guides
we want the real applause people
the continuing believing in possibilities despite domineering despots people
we want it to stop, before it's begun